Antonio Ranieri

The Worn-Out Heart

Canti By Giacomo Leopardi Translated and annotated by Jonathan Galassi (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 498 pp., $35) Imagine yourself a genius trapped in a small Italian town under the thumb of two dictatorial parents: a mother who is such a fanatical Catholic that she thinks the best fate for a child is an early death, so that he can go to heaven with the fewest possible sins; and a father who is a political reactionary and who has ruined the family fortune, so that although the family has land, there is no cash (or at least none that the mother, bent on restoring the lost wealth, will disburse).

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